Chris Percy, Co-Director- CareerChat Ltd.

As COVID-19 disruptions deepen, careers and employability advisers are under extraordinary pressure to support unprecedented numbers of workers and those facing redundancy. They are being asked to do serve more people with less time. They are being asked to use labour market information in an environment where historical trends lose their credibility. Many are ready to rise to the challenge and hungry for the tools to help them succeed.

Job seekers and job switchers want more personalised or tailored support

At the same time, job seekers and job switchers want more personalised or tailored support. They want to be able to ask questions any time, 24/7; they want to try out silly questions that won’t be held against them; and they want to find information themselves. But they also want help with where to look, with contextualising what they learn, and with thinking about what it means for them. And they want help building an action plan to take control of their careers.

A group of FE colleges, careers support providers and local government leads have come together as part of a Nesta-funded CareerTech Challenge National Prize Competition to try and change our minds about chatbots.

Dr Deirdre Hughes OBE and an expert team of AI and labour market intelligence experts are building an innovative chatbot ‘CiCi – the powerhouse that supports your career’ to help advisers’ work with adult job seekers and job switchers. Associate Partners from Derby College, Gloucestershire and Stroud College, Bristol City College, Newcastle College, Weston College, Adviza, Education Development Trust, the Futures Group, local/combined authority and LEP leads in Bristol, Newcastle and Derby are each helping to inform the design and content.

Ever greater focus on automated systems

One challenge is that many of us associate chatbots with frustrating automated helplines with banks, utilities, or broadband providers. They seem designed to prevent you from talking to a person for as long as possible. A second challenge is that chatbots and the AI that powers them are associated more with disrupting careers than enabling them. Call centre workers and public-facing services are being stripped back, with ever greater focus on automated systems.

The team behind a new chatbot prototype, CiCi, have an entirely different approach in mind. We believe humans and bots can work well together. CiCi - the powerhouse that supports your career™ - (stands for CareerChat for ‘inspiration’ and ‘ideas’) is a tool for advisers to direct clients to, when they think it can help them, inviting the clients to return once they have explored the relevant topic on CiCi. This innovative bot provides a safe curated environment, providing localised labour market information, details on the skills required for different jobs, searchable training courses and job adverts, as well as short videos and hundreds of hints and tips around job applications, CV support and network building. Many of these questions are challenging to answer online, requiring sophistication to access data sources or search skills to navigate a swamp of low-quality content to find trustworthy information.

The interaction goes both ways. CiCi is designed using AI and natural language understanding to prompt the user to contact local expert advisers at key points. And users can, any time of the day or night, search for help to get in touch with local experts.

A chatbot can never do careers guidance on its own

A chatbot can never do careers guidance on its own. Our lives and our careers are too complicated – often it’s confidence we need the most, not just context. But a chatbot with trained and skilled advisers working in tandem: that’s a powerful recipe.

In 2020, with Nesta and Department for Education funding, CiCi went from a plan on a page to a working prototype, tested by over 136 job seekers and job switchers and feedback from Super User Groups. Even in its fledgeling state, over two thirds would recommend CiCi to a friend looking for help with their career – and at least one of the volunteer testers reported getting a job interview with CiCi’s help! A CiCi demo prototype is available to try out here.

In 2021, the team are looking for operational partners to pilot CiCi, tailored to their local needs. 2021 is the year to go from prototype to product: we hope you’ll be hearing much more from us soon.

Chris Percy, Co-Director- CareerChat Ltd.

Chris Percy is a leading economist, strategy consultant, and independent careers researcher with expertise in quantitative methods. He is also a Senior Associate at DMH Associates, Exeter.

You may also be interested in these articles:

Sponsored Video

#SkillsWorldLive Video: FE White Paper: Revolution, or damp squib?

Advertisers

Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In Jan 2021, FE News had over 173,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector, putting us in the top 2,000 websites in the UK.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.

Podcasts

We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.

Events

FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page